Richard III Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What role does the Scrivener play in Richard III?

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The primary purpose of the scrivener in Shakespeare's Richard III is to draw the audience's attention to how corrupt things have become in light of Richard's machinations. 

Without knowing that Richard has ambitions to be king, Hastings has admitted to Richard's ally Catesby that he could never support Richard over Edward, the Prince of Wales. When Catesby reports this to Richard, Richard falsifies charges against Hastings to get rid of this man who might prevent him from sitting on the throne of England. Accusations of treason surround Hastings and he is ultimately assassinated.

The scrivener, also called a herald (or a "professional copier") has written up the charges that accuse Hastings of being a traitor, but they are presented after Hastings has already been killed.

[The] scrivener...reads an indictment of Hastings to the citizens of London that speaks of the (already executed) nobleman as a traitor...

The scrivener notes that his is a legal document that he has clearly written, so that...

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